Church planting is sexy these days! The missions agency of my denomination is heavily promoting this process of making disciples. No matter who you are it seems that everyone wants to plant a new church. Some will make it a full-time vocation. Others, like myself, try to encourage their church to be involved in such grand endeavors. Having a 9-year-old daughter, I have watched, and read, Snow White many times. I wonder what happened to the guys. What if the dwarfs became church planters? Here are 7 reasons why I think they would do a good job:
1. Work Ethic – these men worked hard in the mine everyday with joy. They felt it only proper to work hard. Church planting takes an effort. Going into a place where there are high numbers of unchurched takes an effort to build trust and relationships. It doesn’t just happen and certainly not overnight. Planters spend countless hours (See #7) starting, building, and keeping friendships. The friends soon meet our Eternal Friend in Jesus Christ.
2. Singular Focus – they were miners and did not try to do multiple things. While many church planters must have a supportive job, it is best when they realize that those jobs only serve to provide for the ministry. One way to provide for singular focus is to gather a few larger churches to pitch in together to provide for monetary needs while the start-up happens. Pastors in established congregations seek to help others in fulfillment of the Great Commission. One strong way is to help provide the monthly budget needs of a church planter and family.
3. Integrity – they were true to who they were. The names spell out their very personality: Dopey, Doc, Sneezy, Sleepy, Bashful, Happy, Grumpy. Happy was never Grumpy. Sleepy was never Dopey. Doc was never Bashful. Each one was just who they were supposed to be. Church planters that succeed are authentic people of Christ. They do not try to be who they are not even if the neighborhood to which God calls is different from themselves. Integrity makes a larger impact than imitation.
4. Unity Driven – they were a tight group who not only worked hard but worked together. These guys worked together and hung-out too. They shared meals and did everything together. They kept one another in line and on task. Church planters are efficient because they have limited resources and a massive task. They are masters at getting the best out of everyone by utilizing everyone’s strengths and compensating for weaknesses. They will hang out, recreate, eat, laugh, and do life together with the people God bring them. They will be unified through Jesus.
5. Protective – they would do anything to protect one of their own and Snow White. These miners were tough guys until she came along! They would give their own lives for her. This protective nature was seen in their reaction to her demise and their response of eternal vigil until the prince came along. Church planters love the people to whom God calls them. Building relationships and sharing Christ are just the beginning. Church planters hearts break for the lostness in their towns and cities. They weep for the people and wish to see them filled with the joy of Christ. Once they have won a brother or sister in Christ they are family. When Satan comes to take them back, church planters are fiercely protective of their new family members.
6. Musically Inclined – Church planters often have a variety of gifts. They know their trade and do everything with a song in their heart. Whether they have a guitar strapped to their back or not, these men and women sing to and for God everyday. Some double dip in the beginning and lead worship and then provide teaching. Church planters are usually multifaceted by God and use it wonderfully for His glory!
7. Eat Well – The miners acted like they had not eaten until Snow came along. But once she started feeding them they could not get enough of her cooking. They even learned a few things along the way. Every conference I attend I make sure I eat with the church planters! They know the best places to eat! Healthy appetites and well-defined palettes make for good lunch choices. While this point may seem lighthearted, planters understand that relationships cannot be built-in offices but out in the towns. Thus, church planters know where the best coffee is served because they have had many morning meet-and-greets with people. They know the best lunch and dinner spots because most of us talk better around a table of food than in a conference room.
I suppose these guys went back to their mines. If the seven dwarfs would have become church planters I believe they would have succeeded. These 7 characteristics describe the best planters I know. How about you?